KATHMANDU, June 16: Police have arrested two members of a notorious gang accused of trafficking as many as 15 Nepalis via various routes to Libya and Italy where they were held captive by armed groups.
A team of officials from the Human Trafficking Investigation Bureau (HTIB) of the Nepal Police arrested Rahul Thapa aka Rahul Gahatraj aka Tirtha Bahadur Bishwakarma, 36, of Chisapani, Khotang and Lokman Rai aka Kamal, 44, of Sankhuwasabha in the capital on Friday upon receiving information from the victims who were recently rescued from the traffickers.
Investigating officials from the HTIB have informed Republica that the members of the racket charged up to Rs 800,000 from job aspirants seeking opportunities in Libya and Italy. They were then trafficked to Libya via New Delhi, Pakistan and Dubai.
“After making fake promises of lucrative jobs in Libya and Italy, the group charged as much as Rs 800,000 from each of the 15 victims in the name of visa charges,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Anupam Shumsher Rana, investigating officer from the HTIB, told Republica.
The victims reported to the police that they were first taken to New Delhi where they met with Pakistani and Libyan nationals who traveled with them to Dubai. From Dubai, they were taken either to Misrata and Tripoli of Libya or to Italy. The members of the gang seized the passport, cash and other documents of the victims immediately after their arrival in Libya. In Libya, they were kept underfed and overworked in shelters owned by Libyan and Bangladeshi nationals where they would have to carry out manual labor at various companies.
The 15 victims, who had been held hostage, were returned home on the joint initiative of the bureau, Nepal Army's peacekeeping mission in Libya and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Arrested Rai had been previously accused of human trafficking but was later released on bail. Rai had paid a bail of Rs one million after the court sent him to judicial custody on January 22, 2018.
According to the HTIB, there are more people involved in the racket and the search for them is still going on.
“There is a large network of people involved in this racket,” SP Rana told Republica, “The bureau is still searching for some suspects.”